Television has been a big part of my life since childhood. Gathering all together to gobble down bowls of popcorn while watching a special show or a favorite movie was family time for us to share. It meant everyone was in the same room focused on the same thing without the conflicts and trash talking that comes with board game competitions. Who would consider Monopoly a threat to family harmony?
Now, however, the TV has a much more central place in our household. When my children were little I became aware of the hold the glowing screen could have over there tiny brains. More than once I found myself channeling my grandfather who had his own name for the devise – the idiot box! I would stomp into the living room, turn it off mid whatever they were watching and yell at them to go outside to play like normal children. They would whine but always had fun once the complaining stopped. We eventually found a happy medium for everyone with me easing up about time but not Sponge Bob; he is still banned.
In the last few months I have had to do another rethink concerning television and some of the new shows. My aunt, Teresa, is developmentally challenged and came to live with us full time when my mother passed away 15 years ago and she loves, I mean loves, to watch TV. Her obsession used to be old shows she remembered from her childhood like The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, an all time favorite. Lately though she has discovered reality TV and TLC. I sat and watched a few of the shows with her, quickly becoming addicted to seeing into other people’s lives.
My husband raised the point that I was doing exactly what I used to yell at our children about when I thought they were watching rubbish. I pointed out that the key word in this argument was “rubbish” and that while children are not psychologically developed enough to differentiate between entertainment and education, I am perfectly capable of making that distinction. He just stared, conveying his disbelief with the cock of his eyebrow. I took the high road and stuck my tongue out.
His argument did make me rethink some of the choices Teresa and I had been making concerning how our TV time was allocated. I listed some of the more entertaining but questionable shows trying to come up with a positive spin to justify my argument. A few of them had absolutely no defense; Toddlers and Tiaras, Big Brother, Teen Mom – all gone. Three others did make the cut, one being borderline in his opinion but that’s just because he just doesn’t understand the female mind.
My 600 Pound Life – Watching this show has had a positive impact on Teresa and I both. Seeing the struggles the subjects face and also the road they traveled to get to such a dire place in their lives has made me look at food and my own weight struggles with a new perspective. Food isn’t the cause of weight gain, it’s a tool that can be used for good or bad. You make the choice of what you put in your mouth. Teresa is a soda and junk food junkie but seeing these people fighting for their lives opened her eyes to how the stuff she loves could hurt her. Now she only gives me the evil eye for a couple of seconds when I tell her she can’t have candy all day.
Hoarding Buried Alive – This show made me realize how even the most put together person isn’t always what they seem on the outside. You can hide a lot behind nice clothes and a made up face. It has helped me with Teresa as well. She has been a hoarder in training her entire life. She never wants to throw anything away and has accumulated a mountain of just stuffed animals. I have had to ban them as gifts from our family and friends. While the stuffed animals have stayed, she has been more willing to let go of other things. I told her she can’t bring in anything new unless something old goes out because it will pile up and take over her room. She doesn’t want that so I feel like we have made progress.
Say Yes To The Dress – Ok, I admit this one is a stretch but I love to see all the beautiful gowns I will never get to wear! I mean when could I ever spend $10,000 on a dress? Teresa likes to see which ones they pick and when they put on the veil. I have learned a lot about fabrics and which styles look good for different body types and that I should never wear anything called a mermaid cut.
My husband still doesn’t like any of the shows but now he jus shakes his head as he walks away instead of questioning why I’m “watching that stupid crap”. I think it’s a step in the right direction.